Interviewing Kate Smallwood

Multitasking mum, Kate Smallwood, is a journalist, television presenter  and wedding consultant.  We popped in to see how she handles a typical busy day.

I’m generally woken by the sound of Thomas, my 21 month old son, muttering away. He likes to chat to his teddy bear, or practise his latest rendition of  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He can wake up at any time between 5.30 and 7. There’s something awful about the time beginning with a 5, but I can cope if it’s a 6 or a 7!

I love the fact that Thomas now chats and we can really communicate with him, it’s so much fun. Once he’s awake, I get him from his bedroom and he comes into our bed for half an hour or so before we get up.

I’d love to say that I eat fresh fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, but in reality it’s cereal, bananas and toast. I’m currently in love with my breadmaker, though, so at least the bread is home made.

Thomas goes to nursery twice a week and those are my official work days. If Thomas is at home and awake then I’m most certainly mummy, though I do sometimes manage a few hours of work during one of Thomas’s lunchtime naps, or in the evening. Like most working mums, I slot things in as and when I can. Getting the balance right is tricky and I don’t know whether you ever quite manage it, but things seem to tick along.

I have lunch at noon – it’s so early, but I like to eat with Thomas and that’s when his tummy starts to rumble. If we’re at home we’ll usually have something like meatballs or chicken casserole. I make huge batches of things like that and put portions in the freezer – it makes life so much easier. If we’re out and about we grab a sandwich and have a  proper meal in the evening.

Thomas and I both get a bit frustrated at home, he has cabin fever and stands by the front door if we’re in the house for too long, so we’re always out somewhere – to friends for tea, or to the park or a local farm. We moved from London to Warwickshire, to a small village just south of Stratford upon Avon, three weeks after Thomas was born – perhaps it wasn’t the most fun time to be packing our life in to boxes, but it was a good move for us. If it’s raining, you’ll find us at an indoor soft play centre.

I’m expecting my second child in December. Being pregnant for the second time around is completely different – I can’t just collapse in a heap if I feel tired or unwell.  Thomas has really kept me going when I’ve felt rotten, because I have to just get on with it – go to singing and swimming and all those other things. It’s daunting and exciting awaiting the new arrival, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Thomas with his new brother or sister.

Like all parents, I have days where nothing seems to go right – those are the challenging ones. I’ve been that woman with the screaming child in the supermarket and it’s really not enjoyable.

I think the major challenge of trying to be a good parent is being loving, while also setting boundaries. It’s hard not to feel like you get it wrong a lot of the time, but you can only do your best.

My husband, Chris, is certainly a hands-on dad, but he works full time so that tends to be during evenings and weekends. Our parents are all extremely helpful, and very adoring, and my parents live nearby so that’s a great help. I love seeing our parents as grandparents – they have a special bond with Thomas and it’s lovely to watch.

If it’s a work day for me I’ll stop working about ten minutes before I dash to collect Thomas from nursery. I try to collect him between 4 and 5pm. Sometimes the computer goes on again in the evening. That’s the problem with working from home – it’s all too easy just to do a bit more!

If Chris is going to be late home, I’ll have dinner early with Thomas. He has a definite bedtime routine – tea, bath, milk and a story. I think it’s comforting, and it certainly slows the pace down a little. Chris tries to get home for Thomas’s bath time, so it’s usually a really happy, family time. Though, Thomas does seem to have a burst of energy around bedtime so it’s not always quite as calm as it should be.

Generally Chris and I have dinner together, after Thomas has gone to bed. We usually eat around 8. I’m the main cook in the house – I enjoy it, and I’m at home a lot more than Chris. He makes a mean spag bol, though.

I’m ashamed to say that after that, we generally collapse in a heap on the sofa! Chris plays rugby once a week and I go out with the girls once or twice a week. At the weekends we’re more sociable.

On a good night I’ll be in bed by 10 to 10.30. Sometimes it’s more like midnight but that’s really too late for me. I need my sleep – nine hours would be perfect! I always find it easy to get to sleep. I could sleep on the floor. I was the only child who had to be woken on Christmas morning, because I loved my bed so much!

Sometimes there’s a little cry from Thomas, and the need for a cuddle during the night, but on the whole he’s a great sleeper.